Cloud Atlas ~ David Mitchell

  • Title: Cloud Atlas
  • Author: David Mitchell
  • Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi, Historial
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Source: Overdrive digital library
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  From David Mitchell, the Booker Prize nominee, award-winning writer, and one of the featured authors in Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists 2003 issue, comes his highly anticipated third novel, a work of mind-bending imagination and scope.
A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilization: the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.
In his captivating third novel, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre, and time to offer a meditation on humanity’s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

*Potential Spoilers*

Review:  This one is difficult to rate, with it actually falling somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars. The difficulty lies in the nature of the book, having multiple stories of very different genres and POVs that nest within each other. I actually came very close to ditching the book around the 20% mark. I am glad that I decided to stick with it because I ended up enjoying most of the book.

When considering my review, I realized that I had to consider the book two different ways, the book as a whole and then the stories on their own. Throughout the book, David Mitchell’s use of language is fan-freaking-tastic! Each story uses language in a very different way, but even in the stories that drag, the brilliance in his phrasing stood out to me.

I thought that the nesting of stories within each other ultimately played out very well, however the first couple of transitions were a bit confusing. I also liked the diversity of fiction which included some of my favorite genres: historical, dystopian, sci-fi, suspense, and humor.

There are so many characters and themes tied up into this book that I think multiple reads might be necessary to fully appreciate all of the different elements. I find my inner dork wanting to sit in a lit class lecture on the subtleties of the book. I don’t think multiple reads or classes are necessary to find enjoyment in this book, I just think they might enhance the experience.

Now, a few words about the stories, themselves. I don’t want to outline each plot and give anything away, but I will say this. The first two story lines introduced are the weakest. The first one was ok, but I found I just could not make myself care about the second story (despite the lovely language). It was at this point that I considered lemming the book. Thankfully, I stuck with it because the third and remaining stories captivated me.

While not a light or easy read, this was a good break from the usual.

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